We only learned the complete anatomy of the clitoris in 2005


WWe are in the midst of a boom in sexual positivity that is dispelling long-held beliefs about who can and should experience pleasure, which is, of course, all humans. But until recently, this narrative of sexual pleasure was almost entirely focused on people with penises, rooted first in the belief that non-procreative sex was taboo for people with vaginas, and later in an understanding. evolved (but no less sexist) than, while people with vaginas could finding pleasure in sex, orgasm for penis owners was both more powerful and more important. While societal norms supported this perspective, few scientists sought to prove otherwise, which only served to strengthen the cycle – until the full anatomy of the clitoris was mapped in 2005, opening a new world to female sexual pleasure.

Yes, you read that right: it wasn’t until the 21st century that science existed to show all the internal and external parts of the clitoris. And as a result, misconceptions about it are still prevalent today.

Breaking through this widespread lack of clitoral awareness was at the center of the last episode of Glowing Live with Latham on Well + Good’s IGTV. In it, doula and well-being activist Latham Thomas, founder of mom glow, and sex educator Cindy Luquin, MA, CSE, founder of the sexual health education platform Screaming in the womb, explain how essential it is for all people to have a full understanding of their sexual body parts.

To listen to the full discussion, see the episode of Glowing Live with Latham below:

“The orgasm gap between people with vulvae and people with penises exists, in part, because we haven’t been taught the clitoris, which is that part of the anatomy built just for fun.” , explains Luquin. Instead, people tend to use “vagina” as a catch-all term for female anatomy. “It’s too concentrated in our culture because it’s often the site of cis-male sexual pleasure, but it’s not necessarily the place of pleasure for people with vulvas,” says Thomas.

This place would be none other than the clitoris itself. In fact, we now know that a clitoral orgasm is often the easiest and fastest way for a vulva lover to reach their climax. Pair this with the fact that the clitoris has not been studied until recently and is usually not stimulated by penetration, and it becomes clear why the world has taken so long to realize that, sexually speaking, people with it. a vulva are much more than reproductive. Machines.

What we have learned about sexual pleasure since the full anatomy of the clitoris was mapped

We can thank the Australian urologist Helen O’Connell, MD, for the 2005 study in which she and her team applied fMRI technology to the clitoris to fully map its components for the first time. A few years earlier, in 1998, she also led the first physical study of the clitoris on adult corpses after discovering what are now considered the first anatomically correct images of the clitoris in the 1982 book A new vision of a woman’s body, created by a group of women from the Federation of Feminist Health Centers for Women. (This group, deprived of scientific information at the time, studied their own orgasms to create the images.)

“Pound for pound, if you have a vulva, you actually have the same amount of erectile tissue as people with a penis, but it’s just internal. —Latham Thomas, doula and wellness activist

Dr. O’Connell’s full clitoris image in his 2005 study took us far beyond the clitoral crown, or the outer end of the clitoris that sits just under a flap of skin called the clitoral hood. His findings showed that the organ actually stretches several inches around the body, branching into a shape that resembles a triangle, Thomas says. “It’s all this amazing erectile tissue wrapped around [the urethra, toward the top of the vagina], and everything becomes congested when stimulated, ”she says. “Pound for pound, if you have a vulva, you actually have the same amount of erectile tissue as people with a penis, but it’s just internal. “

Recent research on the inner part of the clitoris has also revealed other anatomical details of note, according to the sexologist and neuroscientist. Nan Wise, PhD, who led the first brain study during clitoral stimulation in 2011. “The internal clitoris is fascinating because it is made up of vestibular bulbs that hug the entrance to the vagina and which, when stimulated, can make vaginal penetration more pleasant,” she says.

The clitoral legs, or those parts that branch out inside, are also responsible for the sensations of the beloved G-spot, or a point on the front wall of the vagina connected to the para-urethral glands – and also what is responsible for the experience of female ejaculation, or squirting, says Dr. Wise. And, of course, it’s only because the clitoris has already been mapped that we even know a little about how or why it can happen.

Why knowing the anatomy of the clitoris has big implications for pleasure

Having all of this accurate information about the anatomy of the clitoris gives people with a vulva a clearer insight into the best way to achieve orgasm. “Understanding the anatomy means you can touch the points that are important”, explains the sex therapist Marla Renée Stewart, MA, sexpert for the sexual wellness brand and retailer Lovers.

Not to mention that it helps to know the anatomy in order to communicate it effectively to a partner as well. “I always say that if you know how to play your own instrument, you can play music with other people,” says Thomas.

The increase in understanding and awareness of the clitoris has also inspired sex toy brands to invest time, energy and effort into creating a wave of new products specifically designed for it, explains. Stewart. But the pleasure revolution is far from over, despite these recent advances: the more scientists discover about the clitoris, the more we can improve the sexual experience for. all people. And as we make up for centuries of wasted time, the phrase “knowledge is power” could no longer apply.

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